We’re only three months in and 2017 has already shown us that it’s going to be a jam-packed year. From Valentine’s Day to the Rolling Loud festival, you’re bound to travel more than usual within the first five months. Personally, March and April alone will have me living out of my suitcases. SXSW, Coachella, a random trip to NY and my birthday will all have me thanking the travel Gods for cheap airfare this year. When it comes to booking a cheap flight, everyone thinks they have the answers. Travel bloggers will assure you that they’ve found the hidden key to finding a roundtrip ticket to Africa for $25. Most of the information and tips they provide are stuff we know already – book during the week, buy one-ways, travel to a nearby destination rather than booking a direct flight, yada yada yada. But Matt’s post on Nomadic Matt is different. Nomadic Matt is one of my favorite travel bloggers because his content is actually helpful and informative; it usually provides me with tips I really had no clue about. If your 2017 resolution is to travel more, I have 13 tips that will make sure you’re rarely ever home.
Here’s Matt’s ultimate guide to finding cheap airfare:
Ignore the myths.
You aren’t going to find that dirt-cheap flight to Africa just because it’s Tuesday. But good news! That means you can find a cheap flight on any day and at any time.
Be flexible with your travel date and times.
Although there may be a good reason no one else is flying there during that time, it will always be cheaper to go somewhere when few people are visiting. It’s cheaper to travel early in the morning or late at night, during the middle of the week and after a major holiday. Even if it means sacrificing good weather, book the damn ticket and make the most of it!
Be flexible with your destinations.
If you’ve ever said, “It doesn’t matter where I go, I just want to get away from here” then you’re in luck. Social media might have made the world a tad bit smaller but it’s still just a huge playground and there’s always a deal somewhere. Go to Google Flights, click the map, put in your dates + airport then explore your options.
Fly budget carriers.
Unless you’re flying across the country for hours, airlines like Southwest, Spirit, WOW, etc. are the way to go because they’re easy on the pockets. Spirit just had a 99% off deal. Yeah, that easy on the pockets. Although Spirit is probably the worst airline ever, I’m sure I could’ve managed a quick two-hour flight if I’d gotten it for the same price as a new pair of jeans. However, watch out for the fees and make sure the amount of money you’re saving is still worth not booking the major airline instead.
Don’t always fly direct.
Be flexible with your dates? Check. Be flexible with your destinations? Check. Be flexible with the route you take? Sometimes it’s cheaper to fly a different route then take a budget airline to your real destination.
Remember, all search engines aren’t equal.
According to Matt, the best search engines are the ones that have no affiliation with any airline and make their money via advertising, not bookings. Momondo is where you should start because they search all major and budget airlines and 9/10 they’re going to have the lowest price.
Take advantage of student discounts.
If you’re under 26 and still learning how to budget and save, taking advantage of every and any discount you can find is a good way to start. Look up student discount codes and use travel agencies like STA Travel and Flight Center for cheap tickets.
Sign up for a frequent flier program and travel hack.
Don’t fly for free; if you gave them your hard earned-money, you deserve something in return for your service! Join airline rewards programs so you can earn miles every time you fly. In return, you’ll receive free flights, free upgrades and companion tickets.
Join a mailing list.
Don’t have the patience to do all of the crazy hacks to finding a good deal? Let sites like Airfarewatchdog, The Fight Deal and Holiday Pirates do the work for you. Just sign up and you’ll have cheap deals delivered to your inbox. However, Nomadic Matt also offers this service if you sign up for his mailing list.
Search ticket prices as one person.
It’s every man for himself in the game of finding cheap airfare. I completely understand that you want you and your crew to take up the entire front of the plane but you’re on your own, boo. Airlines show you the highest ticket price out of all of your seat selections when you book as a group.
Look for tickets in other currencies.
I have literally never thought of doing this before. Apparently, searching airfare in a country where the currency is weak will save you a few coins every now and then. Just be sure to always use a no-foreign-transaction-fee to avoid a surcharge.
Know your price.
Don’t wait for the lowest price because you might end up paying more! Wait for the price that you’re most comfortable with.
Book early but not too early.
Book 6-8 weeks or three months ahead if you are traveling during your destination’s peak season.
Finding cheap airfare isn’t always easy and it takes a lot of patience. However, it’ll always be worth it. Your flight doesn’t always have to be the most expensive part of your trip. Spend a little extra time finding deals so that you could put more money towards the actual experience. Oh and when you’re done finding that cheap flight, put it on layaway if you need to!
Are you good at finding cheap flights? What are some of your tips?